Mas blames the Spanish government for the severe austerity measures in Catalonia
Catalonia won’t be able to meet its deficit targets without imposing cuts with “serious consequences” on the welfare state, said the Catalan President on Monday. Artur Mas explained in Parliament that the Spanish Government is forcing him to implement austerity cuts that are “impossible to meet without seriously affecting some basic elements of the welfare state”. Mas added that his government has been making a “very important” effort to reduce spending but blamed Madrid for “suffocating” the autonomous communities and local administrations by imposing very difficult deficit targets on them.
Barcelona (ACN).- On Monday, the Catalan President, Artur Mas, blamed the Spanish Government for the harsh austerity measures that his government \u201Cis forced\u201D to implement in Catalonia to meet Spain\u2019s \u201Cunfair\u201D regional deficit targets. In a statement in Parliament, Mas said that Catalonia has been making \u201Ca very important effort\u201D to reduce spending but warned that \u201Cthere are limits\u201D. The Catalan President explained that it will be \u201Cimpossible\u201D to meet the targets \u201Cwithout seriously affecting some basic elements of the welfare state\u201D.
The Catalan President said that the Spanish Government will be responsible for any austerity measures that affect the core of the welfare state. Mas urged all the political parties and autonomous communities in Spain to unite against the \u201Cunfair\u201D regional deficit targets imposed from Madrid. Mas regretted that the Spanish Government hasn\u2019t been flexible with the regions despite the fact that Brussels gave Madrid more time to meet its own deficit target. According to the Catalan president the autonomous communities \u2013 responsible for spending in key areas such as Health and Education - are assuming the burden of the cuts while the central government keeps the extra 20 billion euros that the Eurogroup allowed it spend. \u201CThere are no negotiations\u201D, regretted Mas, saying that the Spanish government \u201Ckeeps all\u201D the benefits to be \u201Cpolitically calm\u201D while the regions are being \u201Csuffocated\u201D. The Catalan President reminded Parliament that the central government is acting \u201Cdisloyally and unfairly\u201D and warned that the situation next year could even be worst. The regional deficit for 2013 will be 0,7%, which means, according to Mas, that Catalonia will have to implement \u201Cnonsense and very difficult\u201D austerity cuts. Mas is lobbying for a cross-party agreement against these deficit targets, arguing that Spain should share the costs of the crisis more fairly. However, he admitted that not meeting the deficits is not an option either, because the only way of financing Catalonia right now is through the Regional Liquidity Fund. Mas said that Catalonia had \u201Cthe right and the necessity\u201D to ask for this money. Catalonia asked the fund for 5 billion euros, and will have to pay interest of about 300 million and about 1 billion from 2015. \u201CThis is not a present, they are asking us to pay three times as much as what the Spanish state has to pay for financing\u201D, he said. Mas admitted these are \u201Cvery difficult conditions\u201D in which to get money, but they are \u201Cwhat they are, and there is no choice\u201D. Mas also said the problem is that the European Union is \u201Cexcessively\u201D focused on austerity rather than on growth. The Catalan President regretted the fact that no one is really opposing these policies, not even France. In fact, Artur Mas admitted that he will have to apply for a second loan next year to pay the providers. According to him the \u201Cpolitical consequences\u201D of having to ask for the money are \u201Cmuch less than the political costs of doing nothing, because the consequence of not controlling the deficit is to disappear\u201D. Mas was unable to say whether Catalonia will be meeting its deficit target this year, although he suggested that it will be very difficult for all the regions and the whole of Spain.